May 21, 2019

Book Review: Escaping from Houdini by Kerri Maniscalco

 

Escaping from Houdini
(Stalking Jack the Ripper #3)

by Kerri Maniscalco

Genres: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Romance
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Length: 416 pages
Published: September 18, 2018
Purchase Links: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

My Goodreads Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Official Book Summary:

"In this third installment in the #1 bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper series, a luxurious ocean liner becomes a floating prison of scandal, madness, and horror when passengers are murdered one by one…with nowhere to run from the killer. .

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and her partner-in-crime-investigation, Thomas Cresswell, are en route to New York to help solve another blood-soaked mystery. Embarking on a week-long voyage across the Atlantic on the opulent RMS Etruria, they’re delighted to discover a traveling troupe of circus performers, fortune tellers, and a certain charismatic young escape artist entertaining the first-class passengers nightly.

But then, privileged young women begin to go missing without explanation, and a series of brutal slayings shocks the entire ship. The strange and disturbing influence of the Moonlight Carnival pervades the decks as the murders grow ever more freakish, with nowhere to escape except the unforgiving sea. It’s up to Audrey Rose and Thomas to piece together the gruesome investigation as even more passengers die before reaching their destination. But with clues to the next victim pointing to someone she loves, can Audrey Rose unravel the mystery before the killer’s horrifying finale?"

Quote:

“If you wish to go, I’ll never make you stay. I might not do and say the proper thing all the time, but I do know that I love you enough to set you free.”

The Stalking Jack the Ripper series thus far

Excerpt:

"'...if, of course, legends are to be believed. Named after a character from German folklore, Mephistopheles is a demon in the Devil's employ,' Captain Norwood said. 'Known for stealing the souls of those already corrupt, he's full of magic and trickery, and he happens to be one spectacular showman. Here, look at these tarot cards he's made for the tables. Each card features one of his performers.' He held up a gorgeous set of handpainted cards. 'I guarantee you're in for a week of unparalleled magic and mystery,' he continued. 'Each night will bring a new carnival performance, never before seen. This ship will be the talk of legends, mark my words. Soon every cruise liner will host similar entertainments. It will be the start of a new era of travel.'

I raised a brow at his near-reverent tone. 'Are you suggesting you've hired a demon to entertain us and it's sure to become all the rage, Captain?'

Thomas choked on his water, and Miss Prescott shot me a mischievous grin. 'Is there a church or a chapel on the ship?' she asked, all round eyes and innocence. 'What shall we do if we're tricked out of our souls, sir?'

The captain lifted a shoulder, enjoying the mystery. 'You'll both have to wait and see. It shan't be much longer now.'"


The final installment in Maniscalco's series, out September 2019

My Book Review:

I really enjoyed Escaping from Houdini. I've read each of the three installments in Kerri Maniscalco's young adult series, Stalking Jack the Ripper, and this one is my favorite thus far.

The narrator, Rose Wadsworth, is on a ship for America. After her near escape from the Dracula case, she, her detective partner and boyfriend Thomas, and her uncle, are all ready to return to a more normal and quiet life. The ship's passengers are being entertained by a troop of circus performers, including the real-life figure, Houdini, and all are led by a mysterious, masked-man named Mephistopheles. Under his guidance, the shows promises to be a life-changing experience. In fact, aside from Houdini, all of the performers are masked and remain so during the entirety of the ship's passage.

During the first night’s events, all passengers on board the ship enter the dining room excitedly anticipating the first performance, when partway through the grand production an audience member is found murdered. Even worse, each night thereafter, a new victim is found in a cruel and horrifying death. But the question remains, are the circus performers really to blame?

Sure, the writing isn’t without flaw in spots, but overall this was a great, fun, and fast-paced young adult read. Maniscalco's plots are getting better and better with each new book and I'm enjoying seeing where she's taking these characters on this detective journey and their run-ins with Gothic characters from our collective historical and literary past. Book one featured Frankenstein and Jack the Ripper, book two featured Dracula and vampire horror galore, and I liked the surprises in this installment when Houdini is present but it's the mythical Mephistopheles running the show.

I finished the book in just a few days and immediately wished I had the next and final installment in the series, Capturing the Devil, (due out September 10, 2019) already in hand.


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